NEW BREMEN — An annual shopping event returns this weekend and promises fun for all shoppers
German Family Christmas makes its return to the Golden Triangle on Friday as local merchants will offer specials to local shoppers. The event, sponsored by the Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce, serves as the unofficial kick off to the holiday shopping season.
“It started basically as a way for folks to come out and start their Christmas shopping here locally,” Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce Director Scott Frey said. “We like to keep as many people shopping locally as we can and it’s a great way for our merchants to show off their wares and holiday promotions and get them thinking about Christmas shopping.”
Frey said the event harkens back to the area’s German tradition. Several shops also feature a contest where shoppers search for a pickle ornament hidden on a Christmas tree.
Typically, whoever finds the ornament receives a small prize.
“It kind of speaks to the charm of our communities and the German tradition here,” Frey said.
“It also makes shopping more pleasant and enjoyable and it gets them into the holiday spirits. Even though it’s early, it gets them thinking and helps them avoid the hustle and bustle of the late Christmas shopping season.”
During the weekend, shoppers will have the chance to register for three prize packages.
Businesses and the chamber also will be giving away $2,600 in prizes and gift certificates. The grand prize package is worth $1,200. Frey said he hoped the promotions encouraged residents to shop locally during the holidays.
“It’s especially important during the holidays,” Frey said. “Most folks don’t realize that 68 cents of every dollar you spend locally stays in the area. If you buy on Amazon or the big-box stores, that money is gone. I don’t begrudge them, but our mission here is to get folks to think local first and do what you can to shop locally.”
From a chamber standpoint, the event is a way for it to help support its members by handling the marketing for the event.
“We are the hub of the business community,” Frey said. “So for us to help promote something like this, it takes the pressure off of the businesses to do their own. Many merchants would do a holiday open house and end up spending a great amount of time and money promoting it when all the merchants can come together and everyone pays a little money and the chamber can take that and market it. It saves them a lot of money and time in marketing the event.”
The event also could attract shoppers from outside the region — customers Frey said could return to the area depending upon their experiences this weekend.
“I think that folks who may not ordinarily be in our area come here because of German Family Christmas,” Frey said. “And that goes back to our merchants. It sets up that hospitality and folks remember that. Shopping anymore can be such an impersonal experience. If we can roll out a nice, warm hospitable weekend, I think they will come back and have fond memories of shopping here.”
For a list of participating merchants, visit Auglaize.org.